Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taking Productivity off Her Pedestal

I often struggle with measuring the quality of my day by my level of productivity.

I love lists. Even more, I love checking things off my lists. (I've been known to add an item to a list even after it's been completed, just for the satisfaction of drawing a big checkmark in that box and knowing I accomplished one more thing that day.)

And certainly productivity has its merits. Without it the necessary tasks would never get done and many would find themselves in serious coach-potato status. In fact, the Bible affirms the value of productivity when it talks about the woman of noble character in Proverbs 31. "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks...She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." These are good things and part of being a faithful steward of the people and things God has entrusted to our care.

Yet, sometimes, I, and I think others, can put productivity on a pedestal. I can make it an idol of sorts. So that it is my productivity that gives me validation, significance, and worth. At the end of the day I can look at my lists and weigh the checked boxes against the empty ones and say, "Well done, you!" or "You fell short again. Better try harder tomorrow." This is not what God had in mind.

For what my lists don't consider are the unexpected moments, the unquantifiable responsibilities, beauty, feelings, or the Spirit's leading. This is what I'm learning to lean into.

So today, I did not clean the stove or reorganize Noah's closet. I didn't go to Target, call the airline to confirm next week's flight, or prepare an elaborate dinner. I only did one load of laundry instead of three and there are several emails sitting in my inbox waiting for a deserved reply. So many empty boxes.

But this is what I did do: I read my son Dr. Seuss stories and built 20 block towers. I gave Noah uncountable kisses and fed him a healthy lunch. I scoured the kitchen sink and took out the trash. I sang extra songs at naptime, then listened to my body (and my other growing baby) and took a nap myself. I shared a stack of Mini Nilla Wafers with Noah, to our mutual delight. I went to dinner and Home Depot with my two favorite guys.

I like my house to be in order and all my duckies in a row. I like checkmarks, a visible sign of all that I've accomplished. I like knowing that I used my time and energy wisely. But what is wise?

I’m learning to say, “Today was a good day”—not because I was productive but because I was present for my family. I'm learning the wisdom of living for love, not lists.

How about you?


Alissa said...

I love reading your blog! It has quite quickly become my favorite one! Praying for you and your family! Love you Becky!

Jessica said...

Oh how much we are alike, my friend! If you've never read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, I would recommend it. It is a confirmation of what you are describing, a convicting account of what it means to live for love--God's love at that!

The Fredricksons said...

well said....thank you!!

Callie said...

Oh how true that is! So fun reading your blog this morning and having a "visit" with you through it. Tell your guys hi for us! We miss you!